Michelle & Chris' relaxed vineyard wedding

July 18 |
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Photos by Alison George

The offbeat bride: Michelle, Solution Designer

Her offbeat partner: Chris, Primary School Teacher

Date and location of wedding: Hanging Tree Vineyards, Hunter Valley, Australia — September 17, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: My favourite touch for our wedding was reversing the colours of the bridal party dresses. When I was five, I used to make my grandmother angry by telling her I would get married in a red dress and when the time came, it just felt right. I wore an amazing 1950s-style floor length red gown, and my bridesladies and my bridesman wore white.

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I'm more than slightly addicted to crafting, so I undertook a rather massive decoration project involving 3D hearts in three colours which had a variety of little facts about Chris and I hand-written on them. My favourite two are: "Chris and Michelle should NOT play Pictionary together" and "Chris drove Michelle to work every day for a year, even when his shift finished at midnight." I also made a papier-mache pig for the cards, little Reese's Pieces with stickers as favours, and little memorials for my grandparents who are no longer with us.

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Our wedding venue was our favourite vineyard (Hanging Tree Vineyards) from the wine tour we did on our first holiday together. We had a wedding cake in the shape of a wine barrel. It had four layers alternating between peppermint mud and Belgian chocolate mud cake, as we're both equally bad chocoholics (Chris just won't admit it).

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Our biggest challenge: My biggest challenge for our wedding turned out to be my health. About a month before our wedding, I found out I had bowel cancer. I was really lucky with the timing as it was still small and hadn't spread.

Unfortunately, I was a little too rowdy at my hen's night the following weekend after my surgery, and I ended up hospitalised for three nights two weeks before the wedding! It wasn't the greatest time, but I was lucky nothing worse happened.

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My favorite moment: I made it through my vows without crying which was totally surprising. Chris and I wrote our vows together as he's an amazing public speaker and I'm terrified of it. Every time I practiced with him I broke up halfway through, but I wasn't even close to tears during the ceremony. The photo with the fist pump is my mid-ceremony celebration of the fact I didn't cry in my vows.

The other thing that was really special for me was my dad's ceremony reading. I asked him to read an edited excerpt from one of my all-time favourite books he used to read to me as a kid: Dr Seuss' "Oh, the Places You'll Go."

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My advice for Offbeat Brides: First, be clear on what you want. A friend of ours getting married soon has a great technique for minimising a too large focus: the "wedding filter." They chose three words that describe the wedding they want to create, and use this as a filter when deciding on anything to do with the wedding.

I would also recommend sitting down together as early in the planning process as possible and prioritising the things that are important to you. This was super important to us as we're definitely an "opposites attract"-type couple. We found that I was prepared to be stingy on the food while he wasn't, and I wanted to spend on crafty projects and Chris wasn't so into that. We really needed to hammer out the areas that were important to both of us where we would spend resources, and what we were happy to go without or do for cheap.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. Everything is so gorgeous! That cake is too cute and your photographer did a wonderful job. Congratulations :)

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  2. I really love that you're "an opposites attract-type couple". I sometimes feel so jealous of all the people on this site who found partners who are just as obsessed with travel/food/DIY/music/whatever else can be thought of, whereas my husband and I… are very dissimilar in many ways. We make it work, obviously! But the wedding planning was one area where this really came out and needed to be discussed and worked through. Anyway, thanks for mentioning it! Everyone looks so joyous and the whole thing looks awesome!

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    • That's how my man and I became a couple. As they say, "Opposites attract." So no way are you (or this featured couple) alone!

      To the featured bride: I like that you reversed the colors of your wedding party. Your dress is gorgeous!

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    • I agree it's nice to hear about another couple working through the different expectations and ideas of what a wedding is! My guy and I come from very different backgrounds (his family is pretty traditional and mine is not at all,) and it has led to some great conversations that have helped our relationship continue to grow.
      I love your red dress too!

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  3. I agree that the dress is absolutely gorgeous! Where did you get it?

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  4. I love the guestbook look, I'm thinking of going with that for something else I'm working on.

    Awesome photo in the garden with flower girl posing hard! Congratulations!

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  5. Your smile is contagious through the photos. I found myself smiling along with you!

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  6. OMG I love the paper hearts.. they're just so sweet! Might have to steal your idea..!

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  7. Gorgeous :D Ive been thinking of having my wedding in a vineyard or winery so its nice to see that it definitely works :3

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  8. you look amazing in that red dress! yowza! also, i am totally stealing that "heart trivia" idea. so adorable and romantic.

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